Tag Archives: Cistercian Monks

San Galgano

28 Sep

Between 1218 and 1288, the Cistercian  monks built the first gothic church in Tuscany. Its location was selected because Cistercian monks built their monasteries close to rivers, here the Merse, where they could cultivate the plains, marshlands and woods.

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Several tragedies struck the area, including the famine of 1329, the plague of 1348, and finally mercenaries at the end of the 15th century, causing the monks to relocate to Siena. Then in 1786, lightning struck the bell tower, which collapsed onto the roof of the Abbey, causing the roof to collapse.

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In 1789, the Abbey was deconsecrated, but the remains are still quite a site.

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If you look closely through the Abbey window below, you will see a bit of The Hermitage of San Galgano, up the hill from the Abbey, and a place steeped in legend.

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On our hike uphill, we passed a vineyard where grapes continue to be harvested, and saw locals on horseback riding through the fields.

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Galgano Guidotti was born in 1148, and the events of his life have been enriched by legends, some of which we see in Camelot. Galgano, like Francis of Assisi, was born into a life of means but was tormented by a lack of direction for own life, even though he had earned the title of Knight.

According to legend, at the insistence of St. Michael the Archangel, Galgano became a hermit. To demonstrate his commitment to his faith and to peace, he plunged his sword into a rock that emerged in his hut. This was Galgano’s sign of his renunciation of war and the symbol of the cross was a symbol of his faith.

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Galgano died in 1181, and in 1182, construction began on the Hermitage Rotunda as a mausoleum to shelter his tomb, as well as the rock and sword. He was canonized in 1185 by Pope Lucius III, only a few years after his death.

Over the years, there were several additions and modifications to the structure, as well as periods of demise. It is thought that the original architect may have drawn his inspiration from other circular structures in Rome such as Castel Sant’Angelo and the Pantheon.

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Whether the details are accurate history or legend, it is incredible to see what remains, including the vibrant colors.

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Ciao,

Judy

 

 

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